Essex

15 Awesome Water Parks for New Jersey Kids and Families

New Jersey has several fantastic water parks, some of them right on the beach! From big-name parks and boardwalk favorites to the state's first municipal water park, we've rounded up 15 of New Jersey’s best water parks and an overview of what to expect from each one. We've even included a couple of fantastic indoor water parks to keep kids splashing on rainy days.

If you're looking for water fun on a slightly cheaper scale, check out our Best Water Playgrounds and Splash Pads roundup. For more summer awesomeness, visit our New Jersey Kids Summer Activities Guide and our NJ Theme Parks Guide.

New NJ Play Space Genius Gems Sparkles with STEM Fun for Kids

"Goodness, have you ever seen so many Magna-Tiles?!" a mom exclaimed to her toddler on a recent day at Genius Gems, the brand-new STEM-based play space that opened in Millburn on May 3. It was an incredible sight: thousands of brightly colored magnetic tiles lay strewn about—in kaleidoscopic piles on the floor, in towering formations created by little builders, in geometric patterns on a giant magnetic wall—and the sunlight that poured in through the floor-to-ceiling windows set everything aglow. 

My first thought was that this was an amazing place; my second was, "I'm so glad I don't have to clean up all these tiles." 

Happily, my only job was to hang out in the bright, beautiful space and watch my 3-year-old play, occasionally jumping in to build alongside him. My son was engaged and entertained for a solid two hours, and I was impressed—not only with the clean, modern aesthetic of the place, but with the simple yet ingenius offerings on hand. Between Genius Gems and The Busy Bee, which opened in Millburn in March, Essex County parents now have two great indoor play space options, without having to schlep to Routes 10 or 22.

Get Merry and Go Round on Unique Carousels with NJ Kids

With all the crazy thrill rides found in theme parks these days, there’s something simply magical about taking a spin on an old-fashioned carousel. Often one of the first rides a child gets to experience, carousels have a special way of making even the most timid tiny ones crack a smile, and they’re a treat for all ages. New Jersey is home to both traditional and turned-up-a-notch carousels, and you don’t have to trek far to find one. Hop on a carousel at one of the area malls for a year-round shopping distraction, go for a spin in a park or zoo, or catch views of the Atlantic from a Jersey shore carousel on the Boardwalk.

We’ve rounded up 15 of the best and most unique carousels in and around NJ, so pack up your little ponies and give them a whirl.

The Water Safety Skills That Could Save Your Child's Life This Summer

FACT: Most kids who drown were supervised. Let that sink in. While accidents do happen from babies being left alone in tubs or a toddler falling into an unattended pool, the most common way is while grown-ups are around, but not paying attention.

According to the CDC, drowning is the second leading cause of injury death for children ages one to 14. It is the number one cause for children four and under! And thousands more are hospitalized for these incidents.

Family-Friendly Mother's Day Brunch Spots in Northern New Jersey

Celebrate Mother's Day in style this year with an indulgent family brunch prepared by someone other than mom. Restaurants throughout Northern New Jersey are cooking up some fabulous luncheons full of breakfast delights, salads, carving stations, and desserts. Some of these eateries offer discounts for children, and others are FREE for young kids. Holiday brunches book up quickly though, and many require reservations.

If you're down the shore, explore these wonderful Mother's Day options.

Great NJ Gardens and Lush Arboretums To Explore with Kids

New Jersey is teeming with amazing outdoor places to take active kids—everything from nature centers to Jersey Shore lighthouses offer a multitude of fun events for little ones. But our beautiful state arboretums and gardens are often overlooked. These fabulous green spaces offer a great opportunity for children to see nature up close. Many locations also host educational and engaging programs, featuring activities such as gardening, hiking, and scavenger hunts.

As spring shifts into high gear, gather the kids and head to these beautiful local gardens. We're not known as the Garden State for nothing!

New STEM-based Play Space Will Offer Magnetic Fun for NJ Kids

Calling all Rosie Reveres, Ada Twists, and Iggy Pecks! A new play space is coming to Millburn this spring, and it's sure to capture the imaginations of young engineers, inventors, and creators of all kinds.

Genius Gems, the brainchild of educator and founder Jennifer Romanoff, is a STEM-focused play space where kids can build and design with a collection of more than 24,000 magnetic tiles—and that's not all. The facility will also offer a variety of classes and camps focusing on art, architecture, engineering, chemistry, coding, robotics, and circuitry. A soft opening is scheduled for May 3.

100 Things To Do in New Jersey with Kids Before They Grow Up

Now that my oldest child is a 'tween, I understand that phrase I heard often during those difficult baby/toddler times: "The days are long, but the years are short." Thankfully, filling those short years with quality bonding time is even easier with our top 100 not-to-be-missed family activities right here in New Jersey.

From indoor play to awesome zoos, and from quiet fun to thrill-seeking adventures, there's tons of incredible stuff to make memories that will last forever. We have beautiful forests for hiking, beaches for lounging, and cool playgrounds and parks—all of which make for a great day trip with Jersey kids.

Read on for our 100 best things to do right now in NJ.

Must-See Cherry Blossoms in New Jersey's Branch Brook Park

You don't have to travel to Washington, D.C., to see a stunning display of cherry blossoms this spring. You can enjoy the lush pink blooms right here in New Jersey this month at the 42nd annual Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival, held in Newark's Branch Brook Park from April 7–15.

The event features two festivals-within-the-festival—Essex County Family Day and Bloomfest!—both of which offer plenty of family fun, including performances, bounce houses, a nearby playground, live music, and Japanese cultural demonstrations. It all takes place under the fragrant canopy of the sprawling park's 5,000 cherry blossom trees—the largest collection in the country. 

Read on for an overview of Branch Brook Park and the festival, along with tips for visiting with kids.

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